Are you the parent of a teen? Read this if they are struggling with the pandemic

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Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 2:39 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Try to remember what life was like when you were a teen.

For many people, it was a roller coaster.

So, imagine what teens are going through right now during a pandemic. Life is probably filled with many emotions.

“She’s definitely feeling a way,” Daystanya Wright-Lamar said of her 13-year-old daughter. “COVID is making her feel a way for sure.”

Wright-Lamar said her daughter, Day’ja, was looking forward to starting her first year at Central High School.

"Confused, the biggest emotion," Wright-Lamar said. "Kinda nervous we weren't expecting to start school in a different time and different way."

According to a national survey, the feelings Day’ja is experiencing is normal. The Harris Poll states 64 percent of teens believe that the experience of COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on their generation’s mental health. Dr. Stephen Taylor, Chief Medical Officer at Peace Hospital, said that may be the case, but there is a way help with that.

“Trauma can change the way the brain works,” Taylor said. “Therapy can change it also.”

So can communication at home. Taylor said it’s normal for teens to experience depression, anxiety and feeling unsure of the future.

“The extrovert teenager, you are going to hear from,” Taylor said. “The introvert tends to stay to themselves. They live in their own internal world, and it may be hard to get to how they are feeling.”

They probably feel emotions from missing out on those big social milestones like graduations, proms, concerts, and sports, Taylor said.

Not being around friends.

According to the Harris Poll, 61 percent of teens said the pandemic has increased their feelings of loneliness.

“It is a big deal for them,” Taylor said. “Part of development as a human being is socializing.”

Taylor added that the best thing parents can do is to talk to their children, and allow them to share how they are feeling. Taylor said parents don’t need to come up with a grand gesture to make up for lost experiences.

“I think it’s only going to be fun if the relationship and foundation is built, if there is a connection with mom, dad, and kids that is the most important starting place,” Taylor said. “The rest is just icing.”

As for icing, Wright-Lamar said she’s been baking many cakes with her daughter over the summer. It’s a bonding experience for them, she said. She also said she encourages her daughter to share her emotions. Taylor said the good thing out of this study is that a majority of teens want to talk more openly and honestly about mental health.

Red flags that parents should watch out for include a sudden change in behavior and talk of suicide. You should get your child help.

Copyright 2020 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

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